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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Please don't deport me!"



It is my pleasure to once again feature another powerful blog from my dear Iranian friend Paymaneh.
Paymaneh is an Iranian Christian refugee and activist, living in Malaysia. She understands well the plight of Iranian refugees who are struggling to survive in exile, while patiently waiting for a visa and passport to a new homeland.
If you ask any Iranian they will tell you in tears, "I should never have to look for freedom anywhere else...I love my country!"
Paymaneh's new  blog is a very personal and emotional plea to the immigration board for residencey. Being deported back to Iran will result in almost certain death!




I am writing to you, to you who have the power, to you who have the authority, to you who use your authority to support your nation. To you who keep your country as peaceful as possible.

I am writing to you, to you who think that I am like my government. To you who think that I am a terrorist, to you who think I want to wipe out civilization, and destroy it instead of improving it and bringing beauty, happiness and welfare to the world.....

I am writing to you, to plead with you, to try and convince you, "I don't like the Iranian government! I am not like my government!"  
"Iran" doesn't exist anymore! There is only a piece of land that is left, covered by the blood of Mullahs.....

I am writing to you, who makes the decision whether to allow me to remain in your country or not, to you who can change my life by writing a short statement, to you who can send me back to Iran, into the hands of Mullahs, to be jailed, executed or to rot in prison cell for the rest of my life.....

I am writing to you, I am not an impostor!~ I'm not trying to "Islamisize" the world, even though I cannot prove that to you....I am not like the terrorist in Sydney..I'm not even a Muslim..Instead, I'm a child of the king, a Christian.....I have a burden to "gospelize" the world, by spirit, by love, by kindness..not by war..not by force...I don't want to "Islamisize" the world.. I'm a Persian, an Iranian, the descendant of Cyrus the Great..The king who wrote the "first charter of human rights"
 over 2,000 years before Mohammed..

You can send me back, supposing I will be safe, but I will be killed! Every single gospel preacher who loses their life or is kept in jail, the opportunity of thousands of people's salvation is lost because of that! Every single Bible that would be translated is stopped, the opportunity for millions of people to read the good news, is lost because they are rotting in prison!

You can send me back, but I am more than just an individual....I am my nation..I am Iran... 
I am tired, hopeless, hungry, thirsty, desperately searching for the truth......
You can send me back, dead or alive...But I have eternal life and my nation desperately need this life, too!


                                                About the author.....(Paymaneh Sabet)

I am an Iranian lecturer, a teacher, and a translator. But previously, I also wrote for journals. I love writing and making short films. I love to write about romance, love stories and the greatest love story between God and His people. It is also my duty to use my gifts and talents to stand up against the dictatorship in Iran and cry out for their freedom. I want to do my best to reach them with the gospel, inspite of the barriers and limitations. I want the world to know about the true Iranian...to know their faces and the human rights atrocities they have suffered with for the past 36 years.
My biggest dream is that Iranians will know the truth and turn their hearts to Christ for true salvation, freedom and happiness.


                                        









Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Your next door neighbor is a Muslim..."




"Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of soul and with all your mind.....
 This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it, "Love your neighbor as yourself......"
                             (Matthew 22:34-40)





During his earthly ministry, Jesus was asked by the elite religious leaders, what was the greatest commandment. They often asked Jesus questions, not because they were interested in pleasing God, but rather to test and discredit him before the masses of people. However, Jesus knew the motives of their hearts and was quick to silence their deceitfulness. But they never gave up and in Matthew's gospel, once again the Pharisees and Scribes put Jesus to the test!


34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus gave a masterful answer to their question. He pointed out that the ultimate way to please God is to love him with our whole being. Loving God is the at the core of what it means to be a Christian. It is the identifying mark of a genuine faith, But notice what Jesus added. If we claim to love God, then it must also be evident in the way that we treat others. Jesus points out that "loving God," is not an isolated act, but a visible one and if we claim to love him, then it will be evident in the way we treat our neighbor.

Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha were newlyweds. They had only been married for a little over a month. Deah was a vibrant, bright, intelligent and energetic student in his second year of dental school at the University of North Carolina. Yusor had planned to begin her dental studies in the fall. They were both busily engaged in raising money for a trip this summer to provide dental care for the suffering Syrian people in Turkey. Deah and Yusor were both dedicated Muslims committed to bringing compassion and relief to the suffering masses of humanity. Razan Abu, Yusor's sister, had recently been recognized by the university for her artistic endeavor in abstract model making. Deah, Yusor and Razan, were three young and beautiful Muslims at the prime of their lives, studying hard to make a difference in the world.....and in just a few terrifying seconds, their hopes and dreams were shattered by an angry, out-of-control neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, who shot them each in the head in a rage execution, over an alleged parking dispute!

I have a live weekly blog talk radio program entitled, "The Cross in the desert: speaking hope and freedom to Iran." My radio program is dedicated to making listeners aware what life is like for my dear Iranian friends behind the "iron curtain" of the Islamic republic. The Islamic Regime is cruel and harsh to the Muslims living in Iran and torture them in prison if they dare to disagree and speak out against the many human rights violations. Besides being a "voice of hope," for my Muslim friends, I am also an author of Christian novels. Three years ago, I wrote a book called, "Tears in a bottle: Seeing through their eyes."
Tears in a bottle, is the story of an abused Muslim woman named Esther, who moves to New York City, with her husband and child, during the heated controversy over building a mosque near the World Trade Center Memorial. Struggling to overcome the hatred from non-Muslims and fighting to stay alive in an abusive marriage, Esther is desperate and hopeless until she meets Ariel, a Christian woman, one day in Central Park and her life is transformed forever!
I wrote Tears in a bottle to point out that not every Muslim is a terrorist. Muslims are human beings just like you and me, with hurts, and fears and struggles, that need our love and compassion instead of our hatred and judgment! My book focuses in on how a simple friendship, a listening ear, a caring heart, can bring hope to a troubled life. Ariel took the time to listen to Esther's problems and invested her time and energy into her life. Even though they both came from two different religious backgrounds, they both agreed to love each other unconditionally.
 When I heard the tragic news of the three Muslims from Chapel hill being executed by an angry neighbor, I was heart broken! I immediately thought about my book and remembered the reason why I wrote it. I dedicated my radio program to Deah, Yusor and Razan and prayed for God to bring comfort and healing to their families.
Jesus taught that if we really love God, then we must demonstrate that in the way we treat our neighbors! Craig Hicks was a neighbor to Deah and Yusor. Yusor was terrified of Craig, telling her father that he showed up on her doorstep with a gun in his belt, arguing about parking spaces. She was convinced that he didn't like them because they were Muslims.
What about you? Are your next door neighbors Muslims?
Just a cursory reading through the gospels, and it becomes obvious how Jesus treated people. He was never judgmental, but instead compassionate and respectful to the every person, from every walk of life, from the fisherman, to the tax collector, the highest nobility and even to the lowest prostitute! Jesus lived by what he taught. He loved his neighbor. He was motivated by love and compassion. However, the opposite is true, when we are motivated by fear and suspicion. When our hearts are ruled by the "stereotypes" created by the media, that Muslims are no different than the members of ISIS, then instead of getting to know our neighbors, we erect walls of fear and hatred that make friendship impossible.
I have many Muslim friends on Facebook, in Iran and Malaysia and here in the United States. We chat together, pray together and sometimes even cry together. At the hospital where I work, I have a very good Muslim friend. Her name is Menny. She is from Morocco. Every time that I see her, she greets me with a smile and wants to know how my day is and how my wife is doing. If I'm having a stressful day, I'm one hundred percent better after I've talked with Menny!  My stress is gone. Menny is the prefect example of a real human being, a very peaceful Muslim, who has nothing to do with terrorism or ISIS!  She is my friend and

my neighbor. I didn't approach her with stereotypes or suspicions. I didn't build a wall of fear. Instead I got to know her and she is one of my best friends at work!

Tears in a bottle is a book about friendship...friendship between Muslims and Christians. The title of my book is based on a precious little verse in the book of Psalms.  
Psalm 56 verse 8 says of God,  "You keep track of all of my sorrows. You have collected all of my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."

God cares about all of our tears and hurts and pains. He understands our suffering extremely well because he experienced it first hand. Jesus bore all of our guilt and shame when he died on the cross. In his suffering and death, he removed it, he took it out of the way so that we could have a real love relationship with God. In my radio tribute to Deah, Yusor, and Razan, I mentioned this verse and talked about how God uniquely understands our suffering and pain. God is not a "far away" distant deity in the midst of our pain. He is an ever present help in our time of need. The Bible teaches that He is close to us in our brokenness!

Psalm 34 verse 18 declares, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted: he rescues those whose spirits are crushed..."

I prayed for the families of the slain Muslims, that they would feel the love and comfort of God, that they would sense his presence and recognize that he is there in their midst, right with them in the midst of their grief and sorrow. 
We need to stop building walls between ourselves and our Muslim neighbors!  We need to stop allowing the media to distort the picture of who they really are!  Most Muslims are peaceful, law abiding citizens who deserve our love and respect instead of our fear and judgment. One neighbor allowed the media, his fears, his hatred and anger to control his heart and as a result, three Muslims became his victims instead of his friends! 
Jesus taught us to "love our neighbors as we love ourselves..."
What will you do?














Friday, January 23, 2015

"I must be a Christian, not a Muslim."



It is my pleasure to once again feature another powerful blog written by my dear Iranian friend Paymaneh. I have made a few minor alterations and corrections to the original text but what remains captures the flow and style of exactly how Paymaneh wrote it.
Paymaneh is an Iranian-Christian refugee living in Malaysia. She is a gifted writer and activist. In her second blog, Paymaneh makes the case for why Iranians should be Christians instead of Muslims based on the historic tale of the three wise men that visited the baby Jesus at his birth.



Before God sent His only Son to the earth, He used my nation to prepare the way for His coming. So why should I be a Muslim?

Before God sent His "only begotten Son" to the earth, my Persian kings, Darius and Cyrus, helped Daniel the prophet change the times. It was the Persian kings who commanded people in their kingdom to respect and revere Yahweh, Daniel's God. Daniel's God not Mohammed's. Yahweh not Allah.

Persian king's names were mentioned in the Bible several times with honor and appreciation, with respect and admiration. In the Bible, not the Quran. My nation was chosen to support the Jewish people, not the Arabs!

Why must I be a Muslim and not a Christian?

Persians cooperated with the Israelites, but Arabs attacked Iran, burnt everything, killed everyone and raped women. Persians and Israelites were once friends, but Arabs became their enemies. Persians were chosen to help Daniel, not Mohammed.

Why must I be a Muslim? Why must I believe in Allah?

Before God sent His son to the earth, He chose three wise men to welcome him.

Before God took on human flesh, three men, only three men, not more, were informed of his coming. And all of them were Persian. Only Persian. Isn't it marvelous?

Why were only Persians called on His birthday and kept his birthday a secret to protect him?
Why were they informed of Jesus's birth but not Mohammed's?
Why were they chosen and guided by Yahweh and not Allah?
Must I not be faithful to Christ?

Queen Esther also had a major role in saving the lives of the Jewish people. Who did God use to help her? The King of Persia!

Why Must I be a Muslim?

In the Bible, it is prophesied several times that Christ would be born, crucified and finally resurrected...but Mohammed's book, The Quran, denies Christ was crucified and resurrected...
What kind of God prophesies important crucial events and then suddenly changes His mind?
Mohammed's God, Allah, has denied my God, my Christ...while different people in different books, hundreds of years apart, were told about his crucifixion and resurrection... How can I trust such a God, who changes his mind? A god who teaches that my Christ is only a prophet like Mohammed?

Can Mohammed be compared with Jesus?

Mohammed is dead, his body is still in the grave....My Christ is alive!  He is a life-giving spirit flowing through all of us!

I don't want to be judgmental about the Arab's wars, the way they killed people and raped women, but who can claim that Christ every hurt a single person?

Christ healed the sick, fed hungry people, displayed love and compassion and was crucified by them.
Mohammed shed other's blood for Allah, while Christ shed his blood for you and me!

Everyone witnessed the miracles of Jesus...But what was Mohammed's miracle? Riding a donkey into the sky? Who witnessed this event?

The Quran claims that Mohammed had to ask Allah to forgive his sins, (Surah 47:19) but who can accuse Jesus of committing just one sin? Jesus was
sinless....Mohammed was not.

The Bible tells the story of Mary breaking the valuable alabaster flask to anoint Jesus.
The flask broke, but I am the real precious Persian alabaster flask containing the most valuable content.

I am a Christian, not a Muslim.
I was chosen by Christ not Allah.
I am chosen and called to prepare for Christ's second coming.........


                                   About the Author....(Paymaneh Sabet)


I am an Iranian lecturer, a teacher, and a translator. But previously, I also wrote for journals. I love writing and making short films. I love to write about romance, love stories and the greatest love story between God and His people.
It is also my duty to use my gifts and talents to stand up against the dictatorship in Iran and cry out for their freedom. I want to do my best to reach them with the gospel, inspite of the barriers and limitations. I want the world to know the true Iranian...to know their true faces and the human rights atrocities they have suffered with for the past 35 years.
My biggest dream is that Iranians will know the truth and turn their hearts to Christ for true salvation, freedom, and happiness.




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

" I am a woman."



It is my pleasure to introduce to you my dear Iranian friend, Paymaneh Sabet. 
Paymaneh is an Iranian-Christian refugee currently residing in Malaysia. She is a gifted journalist and activist whose ambition is to write and speak out for her troubled country.
Paymaneh's testimony is in my book, "The Cross in the Desert."
In the following article, Paymaneh describes the painful reality of being a woman in both Iran and Malaysia......


I am guilty, not because of what I did but because of who I am, because of whom I have been created by.
I am educated. I can make money. I am a lecturer, a journalist and an actress, but none of them covers my gender. I am humiliated because I am a woman. Men look at me as a tool, as a piece of cloth, as an amusement, as a slave, as an option as a choice....
When getting married, they ask me to conform, that I will submit myself to my man for some money as the Arabs did with their servants centuries ago. And when I confirm it, everyone will clap happily for such an occasion, for such an auction.
When I sell myself, my father, mother and brothers will all be happy. 

I have no rights in my country. Men consider me as a second class citizen. It is not their fault, they were taught, they were trained like this! It is not their fault, the government considers me second class. It is not their fault, their religion, Islam, treats me as second class, giving me "rights" as much as half of my youngest brother and my newly born male cousin. No, it is not their fault, they need to treat me like this to be able to go to paradise and have fun with the female angles there!
I have no place in my country as a woman. And as a person who does not want to be a Muslim, I deserve death. Unfortunately, I don't have any rights in my own country either. I am labeled a terrorist, an anti-American, anti-civilization..anti everything good! People judge and evaluate me..putting me in the same category as my government. They look upon me like the mullahs who have occupied my country and raped my women.

I am educated, skilled and talented, but none of these things conceal who I really am. I am an Iranian, without worth and value! They don't care if I stand up against my government. They don't care if I am suffering and oppressed by my government. They don't care because I am Iranian. I have no rights to live like a human being. They don't care if I am homeless and if my government wants to execute me. They are not a woman, they are not Muslim born...

It is a tragic reality. There is no place in the world for me, neither in Iran, nor in other countries, not even here, in Islamic Malaysia. Here I am low class too, because I am a woman. Also because I'm Shi'a. The Sunni Muslims in Malaysia will not accept me!
Here the situation is even worse. I cannot tell them that I'm not a Muslim. I cannot tell them that I oppose Islam. That is a crime in Islam and I will be sentenced to death, after being raped, which will then exclude me from going to paradise.
Yes, even here in Malaysia, there is no place for me!

I do not deserve a piece of land to live on. I do not deserve freedom, human rights, and happiness because I am a criminal. I am a criminal not because of any crimes that I've committed, but simply because I m a woman, an Iranian and a Christian.
A Christian who knows the truth. A Christian who is in love with her God, her Christ, who's crucifixion is denied by the Quran. A Christian, whose biggest dream is that all of mankind is saved, who has a burden to preach the gospel, which is a crime in Islam is deserving of death!



Yes, I am a criminal. I have committed three crimes, I am a woman, I am an Iranian and a Christian. I despise Islam. It has made me homeless with no where to go, no place to live and no rights as a woman.

In my own country Iran, I have no rights because I am a woman....
In other countries, I have no rights because I'm Iranian....
In Malaysia, I have no rights because I am a Shi'a and worse than that, I'm a Christian.

There is no place for me under the Lord's heaven..even animals have a home!
 I am homeless..I am a refugee...I am nothing, nothing, nothing.....

But I am my Lord's precious daughter!!


                                         About the Author.......(Paymaneh Sabet)

I am an Iranian lecturer, a teacher, and a translator. But previously, I also wrote for journals. I love writing and making short films. I love to write about romance, love stories and the greatest love story between God and His people.
It is also my duty to use my gifts and talents to stand up against the dictatorship in Iran and cry out for their freedom. I want to do my best to reach them with the gospel, inspite of the barriers and limitations. I want the world to know the true Iranian..to know their true faces and the human rights atrocities they have suffered with for the past 35 years.
My biggest dream is that Iranians will know the truth and turn their hearts to Christ for true salvation, freedom and happiness.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"The Rose of Marivan."



"There is a rose that was silenced, that was crushed...
  But it will grow again..the sun will shine again..."
            (The Rose of Nowruz)



There is a tiny city with a population of 92,000, tucked in between the rocky mountains, at the border of Iran/Iraq in the Kurdistan province.
 The name of the city is Marivan.
 Marivan is home to the Kurdish people, a nomadic Iranian ethnic people without a recognized homeland, scattered across the regions of Iraq, Syria and Turkey.
 The Kurdish people have suffered a very difficult life, persecuted and murdered under the bloody dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, but valiant and courageous in fighting against the barbaric terrorists of ISIS.
 After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Kurdish people were discriminated against by the New Regime, largely because they were Sunni Muslims, who desired an independent existence apart from the dictatorship of Khomeini.

 "Pastor Randy..teach me the Bible...


A few months ago, I received a unique friend request on Facebook from Maryam..(For security reasons, I have changed her real name) 
Maryam had a very strange request. She asked if I would be her friend and help introduce her to an Iranian Christian man. When I asked Maryam why, she explained that she was a Christian and her parents were pressuring her to get married soon, to a Muslim man of their choice. She had concealed her new found faith from her parents and desired to be faithful to God by marrying a Christian man.
Maryam's request startled me and took me by surprise. I thought to myself, "wow what can I possibly do to help her?"
However, what really impacted me was how Maryam addressed me..she called me
Pastor Randy......
Maryam's next request touched my heart beyond words..."Pastor Randy..teach me the Bible...."

The Lord had blessed me with a young 29 year-old Kurdish girl, all the way around the world, at the border of Iran and Iraq, that desperately needed my help and my prayers.
My heart melted with joy and gratitude, especially when she called me Pastor Randy.
I have always wanted to serve the Lord, asking him to use my gifts and talents, and for as long as I can remember, the number one job I have never desired, was that of a Pastor. The responsibility and hard work of being a faithful pastor has always terrified me.. I remember pleading with God saying.."Please don't call me to be a pastor..."
But...God has a marvelous way of showing us, His plans for our lives and like Jonah..we run!!!

"Please pray for me..I want a Christian family...."


The internet is very weak and slow where Maryam lives and to add to that difficulty, her English is very poor.
 However, despite her weakness, Maryam astonished me one day during our texting. Suddenly she typed the words to a song I had written in my book, "The Rose of Nowruz: dreams of hope and freedom.."
"The sun is gonna shine again..The rose is gonna live again..."
I was touched beyond words! A few weeks earlier, I had sent her my book and now my dear friend was sharing a song from it that had impacted her life. In our texting back and forth, Maryam struggled to spell English words correctly and yet, here she was perfectly texting back to me the words to a song in my book!
I was overwhelmed with joy that God had so powerfully used my book to give Maryam hope. When I asked what I could pray for her about, Maryam quickly responded by saying, "when you talk to God, please ask him to give me a Christian family.."

I am awestruck by Maryam's faithfulness to honor God by wanting to marry a Christian man. She is an a very difficult situation, hiding her Christian faith from her parents, and struggling to have hope that God will intervene in her life.
In my book, the rose is a symbol of hope. When I think of Maryam, I think about a young Kurdish girl who desires a new life of freedom and happiness where she can publicly proclaim Jesus without fear.
I intend to be faithful to God and be a "pastor" to Maryam. I will teach her God's Word and pray for her every day. Maryam truly is, "The Rose of Marivan" a light of hope in a Kurdish city at the border of Iran and Iraq!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Man's best friend banned in Iran!"



"Prayer is annulled by a dog, a monkey and a woman, 
 (if they pass in front of the praying people.")
               Bukhari Vol. 1, #490
               The Hadith





One of the greatest thrills for my dear Iranian friends when I meet them on Skype, is seeing my dog Jezzie. Jezzie is a 58 lb, tan and white, playful and energetic, border collie dog.  Their eyes light up whenever the camera shows Jezzie, getting out of her cage. They love to watch me toss a treat to Jezzie and then they burst into laughter when she skillfully catches it in her mouth.
The age old cliche' is true that a dog is, "man's best friend!'
 However, that cliche is sadly not true in Iran.
Recently 32 members of the Parliament have proposed legislation that would make it a crime for owning and or walking a dog publicly in Iran. The pending legislation would penalize the dog owner with the threat of arrest, 74 lashes and a fine equivalent to $3,700 in American money.
This really doesn't shock me! It disgusts me, but I'm really not shocked. Look at the way they treat human beings! Iranian women are oppressed by the Hijab law and can also be arrested, lashed and fined for showing too much hair or skin. Just recently women living in Isfahan had their faces disfigured by acid attacks for not wearing a proper hijab!
So I'm really not shocked by the way they also treat dogs.
I remember not long ago, my dear Iranian friend Zainab sent me a picture of her cute little puppy dog. She was so proud of having her first dog and was actually enjoying life, until her next door neighbor complained and shortly after that, she was forced to get rid of her beautiful furry friend.

"So what on earth could possibly be wrong with owning a dog?"


First of all, The Iranian regime considers that owning a dog symbolizes rebellion against the government. Owning a dog is becoming "too Westernized," it's participating in the deadly culture war with the West!
According to Islam and Sharia Law, dogs are considered unclean. The only exception to this law is if you are a farmer or police officer that requires the use of a dog for your vocation. Otherwise owning a dog symbolizes resistance to the government. Dogs are viewed as damaging the health and tranquility of people.

Although The Quran does not specifically forbid the ownership of a dog, the teachings of the Hadith explicitly forbid it. Muslims are warned that dogs annul their prayers, forfeit their rewards and keep angels from visiting them.
Bukhari Vol.1, #490 says, "The things which annul prayers were mentioned before me. They said, "Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people.")

Muslim Number 2815, Allah's messenger said, "He who keeps a dog other than

that meant for watching the herd or hunting, loses every day out of his deeds equal to two qirat."

Bukhari Vol.4, #448,  "I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "Angels of mercy do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or a picture of a living creature."


Muhammad had a deep problem with dogs. He believed that money made from the sale of a dog was considered as evil as the money acquired from the practice of prostitution, witchcraft or usury.
One of my favorite cartoon characters I watched as a child was Charlie Brown. He had a wonderful cute, little dog named Snoopy which was everyone's favorite pet. We all would chuckle whenever snoopy was banned from going to the beach or library. Snoopy would get a sad and depressed look on his face from staring at the "No Dogs Allowed," sign in front of his face.
However, In Iran, "No dogs allowed," is far from from a laughing matter and certainly nothing to chuckle about. It's a crime!

If there is any silver lining to my depressing story, its the fact that my Iranian friends can still smile and have fun whenever they see Jezzie on Skype. That is the closest they can get to my "furry" kid without being lashed and fined!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Final Word



"Perhaps someone in this world would hear my cries
 and feel my pain...."
                       -Reyhaneh Jabbari-




"Khoda! Khoda!" ( Farsi for God! God!) Reyhaneh! Reyhaneh!"
 For as long as I live, I will never forget the agonizing and gut-wrenching cries of Shole Pakravan, as she received the painful news of her daughter's execution.
 I was quietly praying for Reyhaneh inside of the chapel at work during my break time.
It was 9 pm on a Friday evening in St. Louis, Missouri and approximately 6:30 am in Tehran, Iran. Dawn had just broken over Evin Prison and despite International outcry and a petition containing over 200,000 signatures, The Iranian killing machine hanged 26 year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari, an innocent martyr, for the crime of "self defense!"
No doubt, the final words of her daughter, were racing through Shole's mind at that agonizing moment,  "I love you..I wish I could have hugged you until I died...."
I had been in the middle of praying when I discovered this haunting video on my cell phone. I stopped for just a minute and I as I watched dear Shole in her agony, I wept and pleaded with God for His mercy.
I remembered the words of Reyhaneh, in one of her letters from prison, in which she cried out for someone to listen to her and be her voice

"Perhaps someone in this world would hear my cries and feel my pain..."

At that unforgettable moment in the prayer chapel at work, I truly connected with both Reyhaneh and Shole......I felt their pain..I was gripped by their suffering and agony...Indeed, I heard their cries and it is a moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

The day that this brutal and unforgiving regime hanged Reyhaneh and thrust a "sword of injustice" through her mother's heart, was only 11 days until her 27th birthday! For seven agonizing years Reyhaneh had suffered in prison for the stabbing death of Morteza Sarbandi, a former Iranian intelligence agent, who had lured her into his apartment to do some interior designing work and then tried to rape her.
From the age of 19 until her unjust death at the young age of 26, Reyhaneh had never experienced a normal adult life. "The world allowed me to live for 19 years.." Reyhaneh writes in her prison letter (Part 1)...I want them to know what happened to me at the age of 19 that has made me no longer fear death...."

For Reyhaneh, her life had stopped....her life had ended at 19..when she was thrust into the grave of Evin Prison. Yet inspite of her suffering, Reyhaneh cried out to the world through her prison letters which became her "voice" to anyone who would listen to her cause, her side of the story of what really happened.

      "With a hanging rope in front of my eyes..I want to tell you everything that I said in court..everything that I screamed  while I was brutally kicked by four forceful interrogators, who regarded themselves as almighty..perhaps someone in this world would hear my cries and feel my pain...."

For more than six months, I heard the cries and felt the pain of Reyhaneh. My Facebook page was filled with petitions and stories about her plight. I wrote a blog about her entitiled, "The crime of self defense," and pleaded with my listeners on my radio program to be a voice for Reyhaneh, save her life and sign the petition for her freedom. 
For one month before her execution, I paused from work at break time and went to the chapel and prayed for her. I was confident that God heard the cries of the oppressed and suffering and would deliver Reyhaneh.
It was only an hour after watching that agonizing video in the chapel that I received the tragic news on my cell phone that Reyhaneh had been executed. I paused from my work at the hospital and found a quiet place and went to my Facebook page. With tears streaming down my face, I wrote the following post to my followers:

"With sadness and brokenness, I have to report that our dear Reyhaneh was executed just a few minutes ago....I am truly broken and yet there is a part of me that is rejoicing because now Reyhaneh is finally safe at home in the arms of Jesus....Death no longer has power over her...The Iranian Regime has lost..they can no longer hurt her...
Jesus had the final word!
Reyhaneh we love you and we will miss you, but one day soon we will see you again at the great banquet table in heaven..This is a promise.

Jesus had the final word, not the cruel and barbaric Iranian Regime!  During his suffering for his Christian faith on the Island of Patmos, John had an incredible vision of Jesus that encouraged him in the midst of his dark trial. John fell down in worship as Jesus laid his right hand upon him:

"Fear not, I am the First and the Last and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of death and hades!"
                                         (Revelation 1:17-18)

This is a powerful and comforting claim from the one who conquered death, hell and the grave! Jesus is the sovereign Lord over life and death. He has the final word, which means that at our moment of death, we are safe and secure in his arms of love.
As I pondered this Scripture, I was comforted by the fact that Reyhaneh was finally free from the grave of her prison and had been ushered into the arms of a loving Savior.....
Jesus holds the keys of death and hades! He had the final word! The many cruel years of torture and injustice had finally came to an end for our dear Reyhaneh. There was a few moments of frustration and sadness for me that God had not spared her life and yet I realized that he had indeed delivered her and answered my prayers. It was just ten days until her birthday! For the past six years, Rehayneh had spent her birthday behind the bars of a dark and cruel prison. However this year on her 27th birthday, she would finally be free! 

On November 5, the world will pause and remember Reyhaneh by lighting a candle in her honor..I too will light a candle...


"Happy Birthday dear Reyhaneh..We will never forget your suffering and injustice..we will remember your bravery, beauty, patience and your hope for justice!